It seems that lately I’ve been referring to myself on social media in the third person – @teganridesabike and teganteaches5th.wordpress.com. I’m not sure how well this speaks to my psychological well-being, but I’d like to think that I’m doing okay. I’m a 5th grade teacher in the midst of testing season. In Oklahoma, that means that my kiddos get the pleasure of experiencing their first major testing month. We’ve already completed the writing assessment, now just 4 more to go!
On tonight’s #oklaed Twitter chat, it was suggested to have a writing prompt blog post. Now here I am preparing to write about what I would do if were queen for the day. I think the topic fits my brief social media narcissism. 🙂
At the local level, school boards work in conjunction with district administration to craft the best plans of action for our students. Local needs, state and federal mandates, personnel and staffing, and budget issues are taken into account, and vóila, we know how to proceed. It may seem simple, but our community elects a TEAM to work with our educators and administrators (many of whom “grew up” as both students and teachers in the very same district). We know those we serve. We know the goals of our community. We greet each other on little league fields, and we know how to make sure we work through our differences amicably more often than not.
Would it be such a stretch then to apply this to the state level? If we could elect the state board, could we then shift the balance of educational power to this entity and the state administration? Could this actually enable the will of the people? If the state board members were elected, would educators come out to vote in higher numbers? If we were to choose our “bosses” would we be more engaged?
Funding, of course, would have to be approved by our legislators. This could lead to a better system of checks and balances with our state’s governmental structure. As it stands right now, we have a legislative body that says jump, and we jump. We have to wait until their terms are up or we can try to defeat them in an upcoming election. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the state’s budget in 2014 had K-12 education taking up just over 1/3 of the state’s total budget. http://okpolicy.org/fy-2014-budget-highlights We are entrusting a little over 1/3 of the state’s budget to a group of people, while well-intentioned, who do not have a background in education or school finance. They don’t have the time or experience to navigate federal mandates. For them, it becomes a matter of convenience to vote party line or to compromise in order to pass other legislation. If we granted the state board and state superintendent the capability of regulation and guidance of #oklaed, would we have a better outcome? I’d like to think so.
Some of the moves made by the governor’s office and the legislature make me a further believer that public education, in the political sphere at least, is nothing but a power grab with extraordinary amounts of money available to be exploited. And all of this is on the backs of our children.
Perhaps I’m growing into a populist, but I truly think that with this much of the pie at stake, we either need to have very responsive legislators, or we need to cede the decision making to a TEAM who is inclined to keep education at the forefront of all of their decisions. As queen for the day, I declare it so.
I’m at 600 words exactly. 🙂